10 Bad Cellphone Habits Teens Need to Stop

Teen girl texting
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Sometimes it’s hard for parents to recognize where to draw the line when it comes to cellphone etiquette. Today’s young people are paving the way with technology, and social norms about what’s considered acceptable are constantly changing.

There are some clear bad cellphone habits that can have serious social, academic, health, and legal consequences. And most teens struggle to recognize them because their peers have adopted those bad habits as well, making them seem normal.

It’s important to educate your teen about unhealthy habits. Here are 10 bad habits teens need to stop:

1. Ignoring the People Around Them

Look around at any teen gathering and you’ll likely see kids scrolling through their social media accounts and texting with friends who aren’t present. Teach your teen that it’s impolite to ignore the people she should be interacting with face-to-face. When your teen needs to answer the phone or respond to a quick message - such as when you’re trying to get in contact with her - tell her to politely excuse herself and make the interruption brief.

2. Talking on the Phone When Others are Serving Them

A lot of teens see nothing wrong with stepping up to a fast food counter or walking through a check-out line while talking on the phone. Make sure your teen knows that it’s impolite to continue phone conversations when waiters, cashiers, or other service people are waiting on him.

3. Using Cellphones During Meals

In addition to being rude, mindless smartphone use during meals can lead to unhealthy eating habits, like overeating. Don’t allow your teen to use digital devices during mealtimes and practice being a good role model.

4. Talking on the Phone in Quiet Public Areas

Make sure your teen knows it’s not OK to talk on the phone in theaters, libraries, places of worship, waiting rooms, or other quiet public areas.

Talk to your teen about the importance of being respectful to others.

5. Staring at Their Phones for Hours

Many people - not just teens - are spending their days mindlessly scrolling through news feeds and social media accounts. As a result, they’re missing out on everything going on around them. Set healthy limits on your teen’s cellphone use so he can enjoy real world experiences.

6. Using the Phone While Driving

Talking on the phone while driving - regardless of whether it’s legal in your area - is a bad habit. Texting while driving is an even worse habit. And many teens think it's fine to check their messages at a stop light or to read their text messages - as long as they don't reply. Educate your teen about safety issues and insist that he not use the phone while he’s behind the wheel.

7. Making Private Conversations Public

The whole world doesn’t need to know about the latest drama among your teen’s friends or the most recent family issue you’ve been experiencing. Teach her to be discreet about her phone calls by speaking quietly when others are within earshot and tell her to excuse herself to a private area if she must continue a phone conversation.

8. Taking Inappropriate Pictures

Smartphone cameras mean teens have the opportunity to take photos almost anywhere anytime.

Unfortunately, that can often lead to taking selfies in dangerous places or sending scantily clad or nude photos. Talk to your teen about the dangers of taking and sharing inappropriate photos.

9. Using the Phone During School

The rules about smartphone use in the classroom varies by school and teacher. But regardless of your school’s policies, cellphone use during school can serve as a major distraction. Talk to your teen about turning his phone off during the school day so he won’t be tempted to use it.

10. Refusing to Make Phone Calls

Teens are so accustomed to texting, that many of them get really anxious about talking on the phone.

Give your teen opportunities to practice talking on the phone, by scheduling an appointment or asking a business a question, to get in the habit of being polite and professional. 

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